Israel and US need 'common strategy’ on Iran, Jake Sullivan tells Bennett

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also met Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz to discuss Iran threats

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said his visit to Israel had come at 'a critical juncture'. Reuters
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US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held talks on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who said that negotiations in Vienna on Iran's nuclear programme had “profound ramifications” for Israeli security.

Mr Bennett's government has remained firmly opposed to continuing international efforts to revive a 2015 accord in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Sullivan, national security adviser to President Joe Biden, said his visit to Israel had come at “a critical juncture".

“It's important that we sit together and develop a common strategy, a common outlook, and find a way forward that fundamentally secures your country's interests and mine,” Mr Sullivan said.

He did not directly mention Iran but the Israeli statement said the meeting focused on the Vienna talks.

The Israeli prime minister has called for the negotiations to be halted, accusing Iran of “nuclear blackmail” and charging that revenue it gained from sanctions relief would be used to acquire weapons to harm Israelis.

During his visit, Mr Sullivan met Defence Minister Benny Gantz and the pair also discussed threats from Iran.

“The parties discussed strategic security challenges and areas of co-operation, with an emphasis on facing the Iranian nuclear threat as well as its regional aggression,” an Israeli statement reported.

Lead US Iran negotiator Rob Malley told CNN on Tuesday that there are only “some weeks” left to revive the 2015 nuclear deal if Tehran continues its nuclear activities at the current pace.

Negotiations to restore the pact known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action resumed in November.

Washington was a party to the original agreement, but withdrew under former president Donald Trump in 2018.

The Biden administration has said it may soon be too late to revive the JCPOA.

“It really depends on the pace of their nuclear process,” said Mr Malley.

“If they halt the nuclear advances, we have more time.

“If they continue at their current pace, we have some weeks left but not much more than that, at which point the conclusion will be there's no deal to be revived.”

Iran says it is only looking to develop a civil nuclear programme.

Mr Sullivan is also scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians cut off ties with the Trump administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias.

The US official said the Biden administration had already “redeveloped” ties with the Palestinian Authority.

“Now we're looking to strengthen them,” Mr Sullivan said.

Updated: December 23, 2021, 12:06 PM